Cilantro is one of my favorite herbs to grow and cook with. Its bright, fresh flavor pairs well with the flavors of spring and summer. This delightful herb is wonderful to grow on your windowsill or in a container right outside your door so that you can snag a few leaves anytime you need them.
Today I’m going to give you a complete overview of growing cilantro. I’ve even created a printable care guide so that you can access this information easily. I hope you’ll find this to be helpful, and grow some cilantro of your own in your garden this year!
Cilantro is a great addition to your herb garden. Its leaves are grown for fresh eating and are used in many different cuisines around the world. After its initial, leafy production, cilantro goes on to produce flowers, and then seeds. These seeds become the spice known as coriander. Cilantro is relatively simple to grow, provided you give it the right conditions.
When to plant cilantro
Cilantro should be planted when the temperatures are cooler, in the spring and fall. You can plant cilantro seeds 1-2 weeks before your last frost date in the spring. You can continue to succession sow until 4 weeks before your first frost date in the fall. Keep in mind that cilantro is a cool season crop, so it will struggle in temperatures above 85°F (29°C).
To find your first and last frost dates, follow this link to Farmer’s Almanac and type in your zip code, or the zip code of the town nearest to you.
Where to plant cilantro
Cilantro does best in an area that receives full sun, or at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. It can also tolerate partial shade, especially if you live in a warmer climate. Offer afternoon shade if you know your cilantro plants will be exposed to more extreme heat.
Cilantro already has a short life cycle, and high temperatures will cause it to bolt, or send out flowers and seeds, prematurely. Once cilantro starts to bolt, the flavor of the leaves changes and it is not as palatable. Not all is lost, however, because you can still harvest coriander seeds after the plant flowers.
How to plant cilantro
Cilantro does best when direct-sown. Transplanting cilantro can cause stress to the plant and pre-mature bolting.
Follow the spacing instructions on your seed packet, or sow one seed every 2 inches. Cilantro seeds should be sown about ¼” deep. A good rule of thumb is to plant seeds about twice as deep as the seed measures.
Favorite Cilantro Varieties
My favorite variety of cilantro is Cilantro ‘Long Standing,’ which you can find here at Botanical Interests. I love to purchase my seeds from Botanical Interests for so many reasons. For starters, their seed packets are stunning. Truly, each one of them is a tiny work of art and a pleasure to look at while planning the garden and starting seeds. More importantly, though, their seed packets are incredibly informative! And I have always had great germination rates with their seeds. I Highly recommend that you check them out when you’re doing your seed shopping.
Light, soil, and water requirements
Cilantro will be happiest when provided with full sun, enriched, well-draining soil, and consistent moisture. Water cilantro plants so that the soil stays moist, but not overly wet.
You can begin to harvest cilantro leaves when the plant is about 6 inches tall. Simply trim off however much you need.
Leaves should be harvested before the foliage turns feathery and the plant sends out flowers. The flavor of cilantro will start to change once the plant goes into reproduction mode, so pinch off flower heads as they form. This will not stop the plant from going to seed, but it can prolong the process.
To harvest coriander, you must let your plant flower and go to seed. You will see green seeds forming as the flowers fade, and then the seeds will turn brown. To save the seeds, you want to cut the entire stem when at least half of the seeds have turned brown, but before they start dropping. Bundle the stems together, place the seed heads in a brown paper bag, and hang them upside down to collect the seeds as they dry and fall off.
Make sure seeds are completely dry and brown before storing. Store coriander seeds in an airtight container somewhere dark and cool. Seeds can be used whole or ground in many different recipes, or you can use these seeds to plant next year’s herb garden!
Cilantro is a delight to have in the garden. I hope you’ll try your hand at growing some this gardening season! Don’t forget to download your printable cilantro care guide down below!